by Paul DelGuidice for The Villa Park Independent

After two votes not to fund repairs of Lufkin Pool in November, followed in the last three months by vociferous calls to ‘Save Lufkin Pool’ from many residents, the Villa Park Board of Trustees revisited the question at their Feb. 26 meeting.
The agenda for Monday’s meeting featured three items related to Lufkin Pool, the six plus decade old public facility at 1000 S. Ardmore Ave. that was deemed ‘too expensive to fix’ and has ‘outlived its useful life’ according to Village Staff. The first item was Staff comments on the financial aspects of the Lufkin Pool issues. The next agenda listing, after public comments on agenda items, was a Resolution to authorize repairs to Lufkin Pool in the amount not to exceed $200,000. The last item was a Resolution to authorize a contract with American Demolition Corporation of Elgin for the demolition of the the pool in the amount of $77,000.
The ‘public comments’ portion of the meeting was expected to draw many residents, most in support of saving Lufkin Pool. For that reason, the decision was made to move the meeting from the regular venue in Village Hall to the Iowa Community Center at 338 N. Iowa Ave. The regular meeting start time of 7:00 pm was extended to 7:15 pm in case anyone wishing to attend did not hear about the change of buildings and needed extra time to make the trip to the ICC.
The deadline for this issue fell before the meeting, however, The Independent had an exclusive interview with Trustee Chris Aiello before the meeting. Aiello had previously voted against funding repairs, saying he grew up swimming in Lufkin Pool and understood the passion to keep it open, but that pouring money into repairs was not a smart move. Based on estimates of other pools, a package of repairs in the $400,000 to $500,000 range could potentially keep Lufkin Pool operational for 10 years. However, “There are no guarantees,” according to Aielllo, “Spending the (money) and putting in a new liner, fixing the pumps yet again… the soil samples indicate the ground under the pool is down to just 30% clay. We need to move on.”
Aiello told the Independent he has listened to the ‘Save Lufkin Pool’ group and commended them on their passion and research into options available to keep the pool open. The idea put forth by the group to dip into the Village’s corporate fund reserve to pay for the needed repairs is ‘not realistic’ according to the Trustee. “We have our pensions funded at just 53%, there are other important projects,” Aiello said, “Spending down reserves for an amenity like Lufkin, especially while there is another pool in town (Jefferson Pool on the North Side) is not a responsible option.”
Aiello also told The Independent he would listen to the public comments, but he was leaning toward voting ‘no’ on the question to spend $200,000 to affect the repairs and open the pool for the 2018 swimming season. Aiello also said he would vote against demolition of the facility.
“That pool sits empty for seven months of the year anyway,” Aiello said, “Lets keep it there for another year at least and see if another solution arises. Maybe a donor will come forward, maybe a grant will become available. The residents of Villa Park have done some amazing things. You never know what the future holds.”


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